As I Cee It

four book challenge: onward by howard schultz.

Posted on: June 17, 2013

For the past several years, I have not only set a reading goal for myself, but a challenge as well. The bulk of my reading is romance novels (that’s what I like). But the yearly challenge ensures that I read other types of books as well. Each year, I choose a book in one of the following categories: popular (in the past 2 years), non-fiction, sports, classic.

In this #1 New York Times bestseller, the CEO of Starbucks recounts the story and leadership
lessons behind the global coffee company’s comeback.

In 2008, Howard Schultz decided to return as the CEO of Starbucks to help restore its financial health and bring the company back to its core values. In Onward, he shares this remarkable story, revealing how, during one of the most tumultuous economic periods in American history, Starbucks again achieved profitability and sustainability without sacrificing humanity.

I don’t usually read business books, but this one piqued my interest when it was released. I like Starbucks, why not read a book about it, right? I got it last year on clearance and a book like this generally stays on my shelf for a minimum of a year before I make my way to it. But I plucked this one out early.

For those who may be curious, the book doesn’t focus too much on the early history of Starbucks. Instead, the focus of Onward is during the time when the company wasn’t doing so well, when they were hitting lows in their stock prices. Specifically, the ceo (they don’t capitalize titles at Starbucks…) writes about ho they got there and how they got out of their troubles to become the Starbucks we know and love again. Honestly, this book got to be a bit much at times. I don’t genuinely believe all the things Schultz shares about the employees and how much they truly mean to the top brass at the company. This could be due to my slightly cynical nature. If you’ve worked at Starbucks and tell me this is true, then so be it. I mostly thought he was talking the good talk and, if nothing else, the book was a nice PR move. It almost made me want to work there… until I remembered that food/beverage service isn’t my thing.

Some sections took me some time to get through, others had my eyes crossing, and the name dropping was unnecessary. But there were good parts. I was truly interested in what they did to turn things around, because I remember when they were closing a bunch of stores (including the one closest to me). Am I mad about the time I spent reading it? No. If I could go back in time, knowing what I know about it, would I tell Past Cee to read it anyway? Ehhhh, probably not. I’d probably tell her to reach for something more fun. Like the Heroes of Olympus book I’ve had sitting on the shelf since Christmas.

Read if you like: Business, corporate culture, name dropping, coffee beans.

The Circle Maker was last year’s non-fiction pick.


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